SCOTTISH Forestry is offering free help to land managers and farmers in the central belt who are thinking of planting trees but aren’t sure where to begin.

As part of the national drive to promote the benefits of tree planting, a limited number of free Farm Woodland Assessments are available.

Each assessment will help the farmer or land manager identify how new woodland planting can help boost the viability of the business. The advice includes detailing which grants are on offer, predicted expenditure and cash flow, as well as advice on future management of the trees.

Virginia Harden Scott, woodland creation officer with Scottish Forestry, said: “By planting trees on the farm, you can provide shelter belts for livestock - increasing related productivity, reducing soil erosion and boosting the overall biodiversity on the farm. The trees can also provide a future timber resource – potentially producing a new long-term, tax free income stream.”

READ MORE: Area of forests 'the size of France' regrown since 2000

Already, nearly 80 free Farm Woodland Assessments have been carried out in the central belt of Scotland and this has resulted in over 550 ha of new woodland.

Central belt farmer Matthew Imrie, of Hillhead Farm, who has benefited from a previous Farm Woodland Assessment, added: “We are always looking to maximise the farms potential for both current and future generations.

“The area that is now being planted with trees is poor land that we have struggled to graze and make productive for about 20 years. Wind turbines and solar panels were previously considered but neither were suitable for this site.

“We hadn’t considered forestry as we weren’t aware of its benefits. The farm woodland assessment provided us with all the information we required to make an informed decision on whether to invest in forestry.

“The report included an indicative budget and summary of the works required – allowing us to determine whether the returns were worth the input. With the grants available, it was clear that this was a sound investment for now and for the future.”

Expressions of interest in a free Farm Woodland Assessment should be made by 5 pm Friday 28th May 2021. For further information, contact Virginia Harden Scott at

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